by Pablo Boczkowski
On September 1, 2014, I began a three-year assignment to launch the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program (MSLCE, for short) at Northwestern University’s School of Communication. With my tenure as faculty director coming to an end very shortly, I would like to reflect on the journey traveled so far and on lessons learned leading this creative enterprise.
Over the past three years, the program has grown considerably. The number of students projected to be in the classroom when the fall 2017 quarter starts will more than double those that started in fall 2014. This has happened at the same time that our selectivity has risen remarkably and consistently. We have also had a major expansion on the faculty side with the hiring of three new full-time professors affiliated with the program. Our curriculum was also expanded with the addition of several new classes, day-long workshops, and research seminars.
We have also been busy at work developing a robust industry outreach effort. The monthly speaker series I created during my first month on the job generated twenty-four presentations by distinguished professionals that were attended by a total of 1,069 people. In addition, fourteen Chicago-area enterprises were engaged during our quarterly site visits. Finally, over the past three years we put together seven week-long trips to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, during which the students interacted with key players at fifty different organizations.
Building and strengthening our brand has been key to our growth and success. We have utilized the different media platforms available to tell our story, showcasing our students and faculty every step of the way, from posts on our blog and Facebook page to videos on our YouTube channel. The growth in traffic on our website is a clear indicator of our high level of visibility: during the current academic year it has averaged almost 12,000 sessions per month.
The main lesson I learned along this journey is not an original one, but it is worth repeating: it takes a village and the better the people one works with, the more successful the enterprise becomes. I have had the chance to learn from an outstanding staff, led by associate director Kate Lawson and that over the years also included Jenna Myers, Colin DeKuiper, Emily Main, Marlena Reimer, Jonah Zeiger, Mandi Glowen, and Mike Rooney, as well as graduate assistants Jacob Nelson, Amy Ross and Miya Williams and undergraduate assistants Kate Leggett and Caylin Kaunas. I have also enjoyed the unfailing support of Dean Barbara O’Keefe, whose vision inspired the creation of MSLCE, and the guidance of Associate Dean Rick Morris, who always answered my questions—and there were many of them over three years!—with his usual combination of expedience, effectiveness, and humor. But the main people who have made this journey possible are the students, past and present. I have benefited greatly from their trust, hard work, creativity, and ambition. Thank you all, it’s been a real privilege.